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WiFi for COVID-19 patients at Baragwanath

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Putting patients in touch with loved ones

Reflex Solutions in collaboration with Mustek, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and ESET installed free secure WiFi at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital at no cost to patients or doctors. The project was born from a call from hospital staff for a solution to help severely ill Covid-19 patients to communicate with their loved ones.

Dr Gloria Teckie, consulting physician at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, reached out to Greg Wilson, CEO of Reflex Solutions, to evaluate a solution that she was trying to put together to allow the terminally ill to communicate with their families during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Wilson said that connectivity and WiFi are at the core of the company’s commercial offerings and they knew what they had to do. However, working within the largest hospital in the Southern hemisphere wasn’t going to be a simple installation. There was a need for large backhaul fibre reticulation within the hospital grounds, point of entry (POE) switching infrastructure, Cat 6 cabling and mounting access points in the Covid-19 wards.

Head of carriers and access at Reflex Solutions, Rudolf Beets, confirms that there were challenges. “Ensuring that power is always available to run the system is still a concern, which we are also looking to solve. It was paramount to do the installation in a non-intrusive way and not cause any interruptions to the operations of the wards or cause discomfort to any of the patients.”

Due to regulatory restrictions and no communication devices or infrastructure, severely ill Covid-19 patients are dying alone – without family and friends. This is placing an unnecessary emotional burden on already over-extended medical personnel to deal with.  “Medical personnel at Baragwanath are taking heavy strain having to not only manage the physical aspects of the illness, but also the emotional distress of patients unable to communicate with family during their time in hospital”. Dr Teckie said:  “It is just incredibly humbling that Reflex Solutions decided to help the hospital, showing their selfless desire to assist the medical fraternity and patients in this way”.

DFA is responsible for providing connectivity to the hospital from the Reflex core network. Reflex Solutions is providing the fibre, cabling, switching, labour, internet bandwidth and two Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) – one for hospital guests and one for doctors and medical personnel, which will be used in the treatment of patients.

Digital security provider ESET will be providing its software security product model for hospitals and health systems, as well as licences for the software.Mustek is sponsoring 10 Mercer tablets and 30 Huawei access points (APs) to connect patients, allowing them to stay connected with loved ones through video calls and messaging applications.

This joint solution, led by Reflex Solutions, is not simply an answer to the immediate need for connectivity in the medical sphere during Covid-19, but will also be there for future use across the board.

Discussions are underway with Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria to roll out the same fully sponsored solution soon. Reflex’s aim is to do the same for other healthcare facilities across the country.

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